Lately, I’ve been trying very hard to be fully present in life. It’s so easy to NOT be present with all of the distractions around us, constantly competing for our attention – Instagram, Facebook, work emails, the never-ending “to-do” list, obsessive thoughts, anxiety, shame, guilt… the list goes on and on. So how do you know when you are truly being present? For me, a good indicator is when I feel at ease and content, and engaged with the people and environment I’m presently experiencing. In order to achieve this level of presence, I had to make some lifestyle changes to support this type of engagement. First, let’s chat about work.
My entire life I’ve been gifted with a stellar work ethic and type A personality (not sure the latter is a gift…). My work is very important to me and as my father always said, “if you’re going to do something, you best give it your all, or it’s not worth it”. This means, more time, attention and, for me, obsessive thinking. It’s exhausting trying to overachieve. This even applies to my hobbies! It’s so annoying, it’s like I cannot just do something.. I have to DO IT! Go all in. Give it all of my energy, my focus, my blood, sweat and tears. Whatever I’m putting out into the world must be the very best, otherwise, it’s not worth doing. What a lie.
It took me until my mid-thirties to finally realize this. I’m not every woman (though I do love to belt that song out anytime it comes on… and truly feel that I am, but I’m not). None of us are, and if we spread ourselves too thin with our work and our hobbies, or, pick a subject… there will be nothing left for you, or for your family and friends. Life is about relationships, laughter, and being present through the days and nights. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t give things your all, but for the love of you know who, set a boundary! You don’t have to be the best. Just do your best. As it turns out, there is quite a difference.
There’s been many times in my adult years where I implicitly chose to not be present, by practicing the good ol’ art of escapism. While once in a while, this may be okay for some people, I’ve learned for me, it really isn’t. It’s a genetic defect of sorts. So in order to dodge the need to escape, it turns out I need to stop demanding so much of myself. It’s a vicious cycle.
Another thing that helps me be fully present, engaged and living a life worth enjoying, is giving back. When I’m overworked, overstressed and over-tired, there is nothing left to give to anyone, especially not a stranger. As it turns out there is an innate passion within me to help others in need. I think we all possess this trait to some extent. When I actively engage in giving back to the community, I feel truly alive and present. And that, my friends, is what life is all about.
I sat for a while and had to really think about what has been on my mind lately and what a lot of people I know are experiencing. It’s not easy to find balance with our demanding lives, but I do believe it is possible, but something has to give… it always does. Let’s choose for that “something” to be fluff and not what truly matters in life.